From Sexual Brokenness to Freedom: Ken Williams’ Journey Away from Gay
Bethel Church pastor on leaving LGBT
From Sexual Brokenness to Freedom: Ken Williams’ Journey Away from Gay

Ken Williams

2022. 10. 20.
Ken Williams struggled with homosexuality, codependency, and porn for decades. After years of failed attempts at freedom, he encountered God, who completely transformed him. Now, he is happily married to a woman, a father of four, and became a pastor at Bethel Church in California, where he helps the sexually broken to find true wholeness and freedom. We asked him about his story as well as how he is trying to support people wanting out of the LGBT lifestyle in one of the most liberal, woke states of the United States.

Tell me a little bit about your background. Did you grow up in a Christian family? When and how did you find out, that you were attracted to your own sex?

Yes, I come from a Christian family. I was never out as a gay person, but I just struggled behind the scenes. As a young boy, I was made fun of a lot, I was bullied. I was called gay or homo, and several other slurs, because I was more effeminate. I did not want to play sports. The other boys were much rougher, playing sports, and being outdoors, but I did not thrive there. I definitely had some feminine mannerisms. When I was 14, I read my Bible, and I turned it to Corinthians, where it lists all the people, who don’t inherit the kingdom of God, drunkards, idolaters, homosexuals, and I was going down the list to see if I was ok. And I realized then that I actually was not attracted to girls, but the boys, so I guess that makes me a homosexual. So I guess, I am going to Hell. That was one of the earliest times when I thought, oh my gosh, am I in trouble? So I started crying, and my mom came in, but I didn’t have the courage to tell her that I was concerned about that particular issue. I kind of put that on pause.

It became a question mark at that point. Do I have a problem here? I’m not sure.

Then, maybe a year later, when I turned 15, I was babysitting a kid, he was asleep, and I was watching tv, and a movie came on, that was about a boy who was maybe a year older than me, and it was the story of him discovering that he is not like the other boys, and I watched my life play out on tv. The things that I saw him feeling, believing, and questioning the way he was treated. 

The person in my entire life that I felt like I most identified with was him. I was scared, I was very upset. To me, it was convincing. I said: well,

obviously I’m gay then, but I don’t want that. I never wanted that. I would do anything for that not to be the case. But who do I go to about this?

What were the things that have contributed to feeling like you were gay?

My father loved me. He really liked spending time with me. He traveled much. He was an entrepreneur, he had his own business, so he was pretty busy with work. I was a sickly child. I was highly allergic to the outdoors, so I didn’t want to be outside playing. I would sneeze and sneeze and sneeze. I kind of tried to be indoors and used my brain more. He was interested in being outdoors. So we didn’t connect on that. Then, when

I was around 8 years old, I was playing with a few other boys in a field, and they opened up a box, and there was hardcore gay pornography there. I was damaged.

The guilt and shame I felt over what I saw were huge. I already didn’t have much respect for males, because I saw women were much kinder. I thought that was more godly. The men that I knew, weren’t very interested in following God, they were only interested in doing sports. I judged them. I didn’t think they were good Christians. I thought it was much more spiritual to be a woman. What I saw then on those pages, was not two men in love with each other. I saw men degrading each other, and doing dishonoring things. Violent things in some cases, horrible things. I lost even more respect for men, seeing that.

If this is what happens behind the scenes, this is what men do, I don’t want to be a part of that.

Also, when I was playing with a similar group of kids, at my friend’s house, I saw the Playboy and Playgirl magazines his parents stored under their bed. One of the kids pulled the magazines out, and we were all looking at both magazines. I happened to be looking at the Playgirl magazine for a minute, and a girl who was not very feminine, said to me: oh, so you like looking at men? I remember feeling like, oh my gosh, something is wrong with me. I think that was very wounding because it told me that there was something wrong with me when really, all of the kids were looking at both magazines. But I think the enemy hit me with an arrow right there. So I had this masculinity wound. I was pushing males away. I didn’t agree that that was a good way to be.

I was wired to be a man, but I had pushed my masculinity away, so I was craving it.

And then it became sexualized. I was always looking for a better version of myself. From kindergarten all the way until I was in college there was one boy I was idolizing. Even though I was pushing masculinity away in general, there was one example that I was drawn to. It was always the self-confident, good-looking, kind, sensitive but strong boy. I was idolizing, and worshipping them. If I could get their undivided attention, I was ok for a minute. But when they left, I needed them again. So it was emotional dependency and codependency. It went on all the way through college. That’s what the formation of my homosexuality looked like.

Did you believe it then, that it is something you are born with? Or you weren’t sure?

I had no information about that. All I had ever heard about homosexuality was that it was the worst thing. „These are the worst people”, „ungodly people”, „they are going to hell”, and „God hates them”. Even from Scripture, I wasn’t sure, but that was maybe the case. When I heard my church saying anything about it, it was the worst. Even culture, because I’ve just turned 50, this was the 1980s, and it was not ok to be gay. So I just felt damned. I felt hopeless. I felt that even God hated me. I didn’t know what to do. 

Source: Ken Williams

So what did you do? How did you try to cope with this situation?

I became suicidal a short time later. I started making plans. I never actually harmed myself, but I was making plans. I was trying to figure out how I could end my life, without my parents discovering, that I was ending my life. I don’t think I had heard any teaching on suicide, about what God would think about that. I wasn’t thinking about that.  But I loved my family, and I didn’t want to destroy them, but I was so miserable on a moment-to-moment basis.

It’s not that I wanted to kill myself, I just didn’t want to live anymore.

I remember a couple of times I was just driving, I would go kind of fast, and then stop at the last minute, and hoped that my car would maybe slide into the intersection, so someone would hit me. But then I thought, I don’t want to hurt anybody else. At that point, I didn’t know how to end my life successfully, and I didn’t know how to go on successfully. So one night I went into my basement, and I wrote out nine pages of pain, anger, profanity, my story of feeling like I was gay, but not having any hope, and handed it to my youth pastor the next day at my church. I was a very good student before, but I started skipping school, and I was just miserable. So I said to him: here you go. 

He was a 25-year-old youth pastor, who had never been trained on how to deal with that. Very few people would know how to deal with that. In addition to that, I was one of the leaders of the youth group at that time. I was living a double life. Not on purpose, but I didn’t know what else to do. I wanted to follow God and serve Him. So my pastor was learning that his star student is very broken. So

he said: Ken, you are not gay. I thought: did you hear anything, that I said on these 9 pages?

On the one hand, it was the right thing for him to say, but on the other hand, I needed more. He said, well, we’re going to tell your parents. I said, no we’re not, but he insisted. He knew my parents and he knew that they would love me. I knew that too, but this was the „worst sin of all”. 

What happened when they found out?

That night he came over to my house, we made my sister go into a bedroom, and we just sat at the kitchen table. I shared how I was feeling, and we all cried. The way I remember, we cried for a couple of hours together. My parents were devastated that I was so traumatized and that I hadn’t been able to tell them about my pain. They got me in to see a Christian psychologist. I saw him for 5 years every week. He helped me, I was never suicidal after that. It was huge. I had a safe space, so I could say all the embarrassing things, but nothing really addressed my sexual desires. I had an encounter with God maybe a year after I stopped seeing the psychologist. That is what opened my eyes to the fact that God is real. 

I got saved when I was 8 years old, God was very real to me then. I knew I was giving my heart to Jesus, I knew he had paid the price for all of my sins, and I was in love with Him. I wanted to please Him. But then a few years later, when I discovered that I am „detestable”, I didn’t feel the love from Him, because, I believed He was „rejecting me”.

Forrás: Ken Williams

How did you encounter God and what changed in your life afterward?

It actually came through inner healing. My psychologist was telling me: you need to have grace for yourself. It's not good to sin, but God loves you even if you sin. I was attending a Christian college at that time. Most of the kids there were Christians, but not always living Christian. There was a lot of drinking alcohol, and so I started as well. I remember thinking, well, see God loves me even if I am practicing grace in a very inappropriate way. I remember this one night I drank five beers in 20 minutes and passed out. When I woke up, my stomach was just on fire. I was in a lot of pain, and that didn't go away for five years. I tried everything, doctors, nutrition, traditional and non-traditional medicine. Nothing worked. I had gone to some clinic, where they did some tests on me that made me worse.

I weighed 114 pounds. Skin and bones. You could see the veins in my face because I was so skinny, no color in my face, and I was so weak.

I had a friend, who had been my roommate, who knew God as a present God, who could heal today. I got reconnected with him after college. He called me one day asking how I was doing. I told him I was very sick. He said, well, Ken, God doesn't want you to be sick, he's the Healer. I said, well, I thought everything that happened was God's will. He said no, I can look at pornography today, and that's not God's will.

He suggested we should pray together, so we met at my parents' house. He shared with me all these testimonies of people who have been healed by God in the present day. I was amazed. So after hearing a couple of days' worth of testimonies, he had with him these scriptures on healing from the Bible. I was reading through those and then I saw how Isaiah 53 talked about what Jesus was going to do on the cross for all of humanity. It said he carried away our sicknesses and healed our diseases. I also read that Jesus had just gotten through healing all of the sick people, and thus it was fulfilled, what was spoken by Isaiah, saying he took our infirmities and carried away our diseases. And I thought this was proof that even physical healing is in the atonement of Jesus.

So you did not believe that God heals before?

I didn't grow up in a church that believed that God still healed people today. I thought healing will come when we get to heaven. So after reading those Bible scriptures, all of a sudden, faith came over me, and I realized, Jesus wants me healed. I started smiling. I said, well, I think I believe Jesus wants to heal me. My friend laid hands on my stomach. After a minute-long prayer, I felt things moving around in my abdomen. My stomach started churning and growling. For like 30 seconds it made a growling noise. My sister and mother didn’t understand, what is going on. It was all gone after five hours. 

We stayed awake until five o'clock in the morning, just worshipping the Lord and witnessing this miracle.

I was also allergic to almost every food, weed, tree, grass, and mold that you can name.  I had lost so much weight because I couldn't eat much of anything. My friend said, go get something to eat, and I said, I'm allergic. He goes, the Lord just healed somebody here, and it wasn't me. It was the first time I ate food in five years that I didn't feel the food slide down my esophagus because of the inflammation. 

Source: Ken Williams

So this made you feel God’s love again, and helped you address your broken sexuality?

My takeaway from that right after was that God is good. So if he says that homosexuality is a sin, he must have a solution for it.

He's not going to command us to do something that is impossible to do.

I said, ok if following you gave me physical healing, what else does it give me? Does it address my sexuality? My journey was much more successful from that point forward. It had been 13 years since I was watching the movie and realized, I'm gay. I realized God is going to be with me in this and I can actually follow Him and trust Him even with this part of my life. He led me to different prayer ministries and deliverance ministries and different counselors and all that, and then finally, He led me to Bethel Church.

I was always asking God to just make it go away. I know a few people for whom it happened in one moment, and they don't struggle with it anymore. But for me, it was through a lot of different encounters with God. Being transformed by the renewing of my mind over years. I ended up going to the ministry school of Bethel Church. My mind was being washed in this atmosphere of the supernatural. I was learning about what God was like and his heart toward me. That He was a kind and good father. I learned who I was by looking at Him so much.

So basically, you had to rediscover your identity. What help did you get on your journey?

Yes. God put me in the company of healthy men, who were a little older than me. They had grace for me, even though I wasn't exactly like all the other men.

One pastor sat with me every Saturday morning for about a year, just for a couple of hours, asking me how was my heart, and how was I doing.

I would say, I looked at pornography all week and I'm so ashamed. He would just grieve it with me. Instead of blaming or shaming me, he would say, I’m so sorry, Ken, let's pray. I would confess my sins and we would nail them to the cross. He said that is not who you are. It doesn't represent you. It's dead in your life. But Jesus is alive in your life. And let me tell you who I see that you are. You are noble. You are kind. You're a good man. You care well for other people. You cover the women who are around you and you show them love and grace. And you're His man, and you are your Father's son. I had never seen myself that way before. But what he was telling me was biblical truth. So I received it, and it just washed me and it changed my mind. 

Source: Ken Williams

When did your sexual attractions change? How did you meet your wife?

After a few years, I started noticing this girl that was seven years younger than me. I just started noticing how wonderful she was. I admired her so much. I saw the way she treated other people and I saw her femininity as a beautiful thing. I had always seen femininity as a familiar thing. Femininity was more comfortable for me than masculinity. At this point though, I saw it as something different from me. I saw it as beautiful. It started off with her demeanor in the way she treated other people. But then I started to notice her physical beauty. And I thought, wow, this how she fixes her hair and the femininity of her is a beautiful thing. I had never noticed that before with any female. I thought it was hard to not look at her. She's just captivating.

I ended up asking her out on a date and I felt so healthy doing that. It felt right. Before, it was too intimidating and too stressful. But now it was just wonderful. It felt so special and important for me to be the man who was out with the girl on a date. And for me to sit across from her at the dinner table and to see all of the other men that were in the restaurant, and for them to see that I was the one with this beautiful girl.

All of those things I had never experienced before, and it felt good. 

Just to get to spend time with her and have her attention and share life with her was the richest thing I had experienced. I remember that night when I was driving her home, I remember where I was on the highway, I thought, well, if she will have me, I'll marry her. We dated for about six months before I asked her to marry me, and then we were engaged for ten months, and then married. And that was 16 years ago. Now we have four children together.

You are the founder of the CHANGED movement, helping people like you to find emotional healing and reach wholeness and freedom. What led you to start it?

I have met hundreds of people who struggled with the same things I did. It's much more common than people probably know. Well, it's obvious today, but five years ago wasn't. I started the ministry seven or eight years ago to help people with their sexuality.

We put together a series of videos to help individuals who are wanting a way out of homosexuality. We talk about what are common things that lead to feeling LGBT, what are problems associated with that and how can people help. We are focused on ministering to individuals, equipping the church, but also activism as far as trying to address laws and policies that are taking away rights from people to leave an LGBT life if that's their conviction.

Source: Ken Williams

In the most liberal state in the US that must be quite challenging. What does your political activism look like?

Yes, it is a big problem in California. We were at the center of pushing back against legislation several years ago. And thankfully the Lord, I believe, canceled the bill at the last minute.

We used the power of our testimonies, showing up to government hearings. We partnered with different activist organizations that were fighting for conservative laws. They would usually have us come and be someone who would testify. Then we realized we needed to do more. So we phoned our friends and they phoned their friends, and we put together a book of testimonies. There are 52 testimonies in there. We took those books and we got all of the people in the book to come to the California capital. We stood on the Capitol steps, the news media showed up and then it got like a million views on social media how we shared testimonies.

Then we took the books, went to all the different senators’ offices, and said, hey, there's this bill being presented in Congress right now.

This bill takes away my rights. I have convictions about my sexuality. Please don't control my sexuality. I would like to decide for myself.

Then we handed them the books. 

So we did things like that. Then it became a movement, the CHANGED movement. We're encouraging each other and we are active. We take groups to Washington D.C. We equip them with knowledge on topics like: What do you need to know about the law? What do you need to know about being honoring and humble when you share your story so that you are received well. The gospel gets presented as we share our testimonies a lot. 

What do you recommend to those therapists, pastors who are trying to effectively help people who want out of the LGBT life?

Give eye contact as much as you can. Help the person know and feel that they're seen and valued. The three A's that I learned from Dr. Joseph Nicolosi are attention, affirmation, and affection, those are important things. Homosexuality is an intimacy wound. It's a relational wound. We should try to create an atmosphere where people can find who they deeply are. They need to have attention, appropriate affection, and affirmation because they haven't had enough affirmation. They've had rejection, usually.

We encourage ministers to not just focus on sexuality, but on knowing the person and seeking to know their interests, and what matters to them, and to give unconditional love as much as we can, helping them see themselves. That's what the pastor did with me every week.

He was helping me see through a lens that I hadn’t seen through before. I believe it was God's lens. It's how Father God saw me. I just saw my flaws, and my weaknesses, but God saw everything.

He saw how He designed me. The more my pastor reflected to me what He saw, the more I started to believe it for myself. He wasn't saying Ken, you shouldn't see yourself this way or don't do these things. He was showing me what was true. And I was able to borrow his lens for me eventually.

What are the common mistakes people make when they try to help these people?

For example when they say: you just need to get yourself a girlfriend. You shouldn't rush them into relationships, because that won't solve the problem. A man should be covering the girl and helping her to be in a safe place, where she can discover all God created her to be. He shouldn’t try to use her to figure out who he is. If he does, he is wounding her. It is out of order, and it just creates more brokenness and pressure. He is not ready for that. He’s got to learn how to be one of the men before he can try to cover a woman.
It is also important to know, that it is not a problem you can solve through a simple deliverance ministry. Deliverance is important, but if that's the only card that you have to play, it's just going to do more harm. They'll end up with seven spirits worse than when they started.

You have to have emotional care, soul care, and internal healing ministry. The people who I see that have the most successful transformation stories have mentors, spiritual moms, and spiritual dads. There is actually someone who is walking with them as my pastor did with me. Those are the most successful stories. 

Many times people are afraid of the things they don't know enough about. It is the same with the LGBT world. How do you overcome that?

Testimonies help people get inside the mind of someone who struggles. Then they start to understand, what to say and not to say. But I have to tell you, I got a lot more healing from people who had no experience with homosexuality than I did from the ministries that were focused on sexual brokenness. Because they weren't treating me like I had a problem. People are much more equipped to help than they think they are. They just need to have that confidence and be continually asking God how he sees each person. 

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